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Searching for Black Confederates

The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth
Narrated by: JD Jackson
Length: 9 hrs and 15 mins
Categories: History, American
4.5 out of 5 stars (16 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

More than 150 years after the end of the Civil War, scores of websites, articles, and organizations repeat claims that anywhere between 500 and 100,000 free and enslaved African Americans fought willingly as soldiers in the Confederate army. But as Kevin M. Levin argues in this carefully researched book, such claims would have shocked anyone who served in the army during the war itself. Levin explains that imprecise contemporary accounts, poorly understood primary-source material, and other misrepresentations helped fuel the rise of the black Confederate myth. Moreover, Levin shows that belief in the existence of black Confederate soldiers largely originated in the 1970s, a period that witnessed both a significant shift in how Americans remembered the Civil War and a rising backlash against African Americans' gains in civil rights and other realms.

Levin also investigates the roles that African Americans actually performed in the Confederate army, including personal body servants and forced laborers. He demonstrates that regardless of the dangers these men faced in camp, on the march, and on the battlefield, their legal status remained unchanged. Even long after the guns fell silent, Confederate veterans and other writers remembered these men as former slaves and not as soldiers, an important reminder that how the war is remembered often runs counter to history. 

©2019 Kevin M. Levin (P)2019 Audible, Inc.

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Great back story.

Great back story on how the story of the CSA war should have been told.

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For those who care about facts

It's sad thing when an author ends his book-length refutation of a popular myth with the acknowledgement that to many, the myth will endure despite the facts because the myth is so popular and serves such an important purpose. But I appreciate his having written this nonetheless. For those truly interested in understanding the role of African Americans in the American civil war, this is an invaluable resource. Not overly long, but full of context and facts and compassion for the lived experience and the complex loyalties at work in the confederacy.

Another reviewer said that it was more political commentary than history and I could not disagree more. This is history, written by a historian. Is there interpretation of the facts? Yes. That is what historians do. But some facts are simply facts, even if they hurt the feelings of the Lost Cause defenders.

As for the narration, I'd have bought this book regardless but when I realized the narrator was the same man who has excellently narrated some of Attica Locke's mystery books. I was extra hooked and was not disappointed.

My only quibble is that I suspect the ebook or physical book includes photos, besides the cover photo, that would provide even more context and humanity to the stories of African Americans living in the confederacy. If those are included in the text copy, I wish they were available as a pdf to audiobook listeners. If they are not included, they should be.

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modern political commentary

This book is more of an expression of the author's modern political beliefs than anything.

0 of 6 people found this review helpful